Dec 04 2008
Hispanics are learning a harsh lesson. I have two interesting reads about how the left and right are blowing it with this key demographic group. Let’s begin with the GOP’s issues with Hispanics:
Many in the Republican Party are addicted to the divisive practice of exploiting nativist fears to scare up votes. â€¨As with any addiction, the first step to kicking it is to admit you have a problem and ask for help.
The nationâ€™s 46 million Hispanics are Americaâ€™s largest minority, and theyâ€™re on track to represent one in four Americans byÂ 2042. Every two years, another 1 million Hispanics join the voter rolls. Two-thirds of Hispanics voted for Barack Obama. Political experts say that, if Republicans donâ€™t stop hemorrhaging Hispanic support, they might never win another presidential election. Period.
Specifically, there are five things that Republicans did which cost them Hispanic support.
- They made language and culture the issue rather than illegality, which irked U.S.-born Hispanics who might otherwise have stayed out of the fray;
- They didnâ€™t condemn the racism in their ranks on the part of those who believe that Hispanic immigrants are inferior to the immigrants of old;
- They let the debate digress from one that was anti-illegal immigration to one that was anti-immigrant to, finally, one that was anti-Hispanic;
- They fell into the trap of offering simple solutions to what remains a complicated problemâ€¨â€¨â€¨â€¨; and
- They either assumed that Hispanics were not in play or that they could win some of those votes on the cheap with a spattering of Spanish ads.
The fact is there is a group inside the GOP chasing away groups of naturally conservative voters by their extreme tactics and commentary. The only good news is that the Dems are not taking real advantage of the GOP’s blunders:
f there is one message President-elect Barack Obamaâ€™s transition team has broadcast about Cabinet picks, it is that ethnicity and gender will not be the first considerations when filling the slots.Â
Credentials over tokenism, after all, was a fundamental principle of Obamaâ€™s presidential campaign that highlighted his ideas and community values over his African-American background. Still, if all goes as planned, Cabinet members with hefty rÃ©sumÃ©s will present a picture of diversity.Â
Hispanic political leaders agree. Their expectations for seats at the presidentâ€™s top policy table are not about meeting quotas but about advancing the reality that within this fastest-growing ethnic group are seasoned policy experts who understand the economic, foreign and domestic policy concerns shared by everyone.Â
Obama promised hope and change, and Hispanics hoped for the usual two Latinos in the Cabinet. And heck, why not three or four? Now that would be a change.Â
But at this early stage in the appointments process, there is a trickle of disappointment running through the Latino community.Â
The GOP needs to squash the voices calling for over-the-top responses to immigration. They need to put and end to the lies I have been hearing to this day (such as President Bush did nothing about our borders during his 8 years). We don’t need inaccurate hyperventilating tinged with hefty dose of snobbery to win elections. In fact, we need just the opposite.